BIOTECHNOLOGY & ART midterm
THE NEWLY WEDS
iranian studies & international development
In class thus far, we have focused on the influence art and
science have had on one another and the dialogue that is
forming between the two. Though this communication has
been in the works for quite a while, it is just making its way
into the forefront of people's minds as more and more
attention is being given to the collaborations artists and
scientists are making with each other. Most of both the
artistic and scientific communities hold this to be a beneficial
step to each of their fields of work, respectively. A fine
example of this forming dialogue is seen in artist Daniel
Kohn and his collaboration with MIT University’s Broad
Institute director, Todd Golub. My proposal is for such a
dual working environment to grow and flourish in as many
laboratories and art studios as possible. Thus, the idea of
combining art with science and science with art will move
toward becoming the norm, allowing each field to equally
benefit from the other.
concept / topic.
Art benefiting science and science benefiting art!
Though the two fields of study seem very different, they
actually share a common goal: to know and better understand
the human experience and to make sense of it in the context of
the world we live in today. While science goes about
approaching life’s fundamental questions with a very calculated
approach, using well thought out techniques and
methodologies, art does the opposite, gaining knowledge
through the expression and analysis of feelings and raw
context & precedents.
Daniel Kohn’s art studio, located on the 4th
floor of the Broad Institute, epitomizes strides
both the artistic and scientific communities are
making in the synthesis between art and science.
Calling his work “thinking drawings” rather than
art, Kohn’s 8x8” colorful sketches explore the
forms of chemical bonds, DNA sequences, and
chromatin structures. His work, exceeding more
than 700 pieces, have transformed into a
database of their own, much like the other large-
scale and purely scientific data bases that exist
in Broad. As if arranging high-throughput
microarray or chemical screening data, Kohn’s
database of the paintings are used to extract
deeper meaning through computational analysis
and manipulation. While Kohn holds his objective
in this to be a betting of science through art, the
scientific community at Broad appreciate his
efforts and further add on, “contrary to popular
belief, science requires imagination, while art
requires much of the practicality of science”.
More “lab-art-tories” with the already well-known
institutions (such as MIT) taking the lead and
beginning the movement that is to ensue. Thus, the
idea of combining art with science and science with
art will start to become less taboo, as more and
more people view it as the norm.
project proposal continued.
Laboratories will have a
section meant for artists to
work and create art in a
fashion that will be visible to
the scientists working in the
same area. This designated
zone can be separated by a
see-through glass so as to
maintain the privacy of both
the artists’ and scientists’
working environments, while at
the same time exposing their
work and the process they go
through before reaching the
end result to the other, hence
instilling a true sense of
knowledge and appreciation
for the other’s work.
project proposal continued.
Furthermore, the art created in
the laboratories can be displayed
in a non-intrusive way around the
laboratories, fulfilling two
purposes: 1. the art may serve as
creative reminders to scientists to
think outside the box when facing
the many challenges they
continually encounter, and 2.
knowing that their art must be
arranged and composed in a
specific way will inject a certain
structure to the artist’s way of
thought that may make the work
more comprehensive to the
general public as a whole.
Currently, many artists-scientists or scientist-artists
face ridicule for combining their work with something
they love. However, though this notion is not very
well-spread yet, strides toward making it so are taking
place. With this proposed project, the dialogue
between art and science will greatly be increased,
quickening the process even more. A dual working
environment will allow more creativity to leak into the
scientific world and more methodology to enter the art
world, assisting both fields in better understanding
the world. And this, after all, is the ultimate goal of
both art and science.
 Kohn, Daniel. “Research.” KohnWorkshop. 2008. 8
February 2010 http://www.kohnworkshop.com/
 Smith, John E. Biotechnology: Studies in Biology. Fourth
ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
 Shapiro, Jesse. “Lab-art-orty” The Scientists. 2008. 6
Feb. 2010 http://www.the-scientist.com/news/print/54730/
• Clute, John, and Peter Nicholls, eds. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's, 1993.
• Collins, Jay and Silver, Simon. Biotechnology: Potentials and Limitations. Michigan: University of Michigan
• Kohn, Daniel. “Research.” KohnWorkshop. 2008. 8 February 2010 http://www.kohnworkshop.com/
• Locker, Thomas. Seeing Science Through Art. China: Thomas Locker, Inc., 1995.
• Murphy, Karen L., Roseanne DePasquale, and Erin McNamara. "Meaningful Connections: Using Technology in
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• Nelson, Roxanne. “Biotechnology." Lancet 359 (2002): 1675. Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost. Honolulu
Community College Lib., HI. 8 February 2008 http://search.epnet.com/.
• Shapiro, Jesse. “Lab-art-orty” The Scientists. 2008. 8 Feb. 2010 http://www.the-scientist.com/news/print/54730/.
• Smith, John E. Biotechnology: Studies in Biology. Fourth ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
• Sturgeon, Theodore. "Science." The Encyclopedia Americana. International ed. 1995.
• Wilson, Stephen. Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology. Massachusetts: The MIT